For the Birds
A few weekends ago, I spent some time at the NYC headquarters of the Wild Bird Fund on the upper west side. My daughter will be volunteering for this wonderful organization and she was there to take the orientation class. The WBF rehabilitates over 3000 sick, injured or orphaned wildlife every year and releases them back to the wilds of New York City. I was surprised to learn that over 355 bird species live in the Big Apple or take refuge there during the spring and fall migrations. Many are injured by flying into buildings that have sprung up along these ancient migratory pathways or by cat attacks, vehicles, and human interference. From pigeons to geese, cormorants to egrets, owls to hawks, the WBF has seen them all and has provided all types of care, in addition to running a great educational program for all ages. Just hearing about some their success stories makes me go all teary-eyed.
Of course, I have always been a bird lover. When I was a child, I had a bright green pet parakeet – or “budgie” - called Janneke. It may sound weird, but he was so social and outspoken, he truly was a member of our family. He lived to the remarkable age of 13 – very old for a parakeet – and even though that was a long time ago, stories about Janneke's numerous exploits still make the rounds in my family on a regular basis.
Whether you have a pet bird or take care of the bird population in your backyard, it is not hard to see why these happy creatures fascinate us so much. Dedicated “birders” will tell you there is nothing more captivating than taking in their sweet demeanor, amazing skills, uplifting song and gorgeous plumage. Now that winter is upon is, it's time to reward them for all they give us by providing them with tasty treats. At last count, I have five (!) bird feeders of varying size on my deck with different seed mixes in each.
Bird patterns and motifs have been used as decorative elements as far back as the stone ages – many bird species are associated with good luck, fertility, peace, wisdom... - are they are definitely having a “moment” right now. Who hasn't chuckled at the famous “put a bird on it” skit from Portlandia? Truth is, these adorable creatures can find a place just about anywhere in our house.
Smaller spaces – such as powder rooms, nurseries, hallways and walk-in closets – lend themselves especially well for an all-over wall treatment with birds. As an alternative to wallpaper, consider the gallery wall, featuring an eclectic collection of naturalist bird illustrations. To get the look for less, savvy decorators will frame the pages of an Audubon calendar or coffee-table book.
For a more contemporary look, look for graphic black-and-white renderings or black silhouette cut-outs. The wall-size trompe-l'oeil aviary below is spectacular. Alternatively, wall decals have the advantage that they can easily be removed and replaced when needed.
Last but not least, embrace the full-blown romantic nature of this bucolic trend. After all, what could possibly be better than waking up to the beautiful serenade of a lovely songbird – on your walls AND outside your window?